Blast (1997) – By Jonathon Pernisek

Well, the Christmas season has come and gone, and in its wake is the vanilla-flavored distaste left in my mouth after watching Blast. I doubt there is another movie available on the market that can match today’s feature in terms of being wholly derivative, especially when you start taking stock of the Die Hard rip-off genre. Oddly enough there’s more than a few names scattered throughout the credits to make this a somewhat interesting look to their sordid past, but that depends on whether you’ll be able to pay attention. I’ll just say it now: I could not.

The opening of Blast uses just about every device it can to give us the most basic elements of a plot, and by doing so quickly becomes laughable. To begin with, title cards inform us that this is not, in fact, based on a true story, but one that could have been true if it ever happened. Yep, this action flick’s series of events might well have gone down if some dirty terrorists had pulled off their little scheme, but thanks to our government boys it was foiled before realization. Other devices include handy dandy voice-overs setting up the sheer evil of said terrorists; hover shots over such items as newspaper clippings, athletic ribbons without their medals, and I swear to God, a signed form authorizing the hawking of the medal. You couldn’t lead an audience along more if you…oh wait, they did try. A lot.

Of course, any retread of a Bruce Willis vehicle must have its stoic hero, and here it comes in the form of Jack Bryant. As played by Linden Ashby, Jack is easily the most world-ridden man of all time. The man was injured during his rise to the top as a pro swimmer, his wife left him to pursue fame and fortune in the athletic world, and to top it all off, he now works as a janitor with a really nosy woman named Bena. Bena believes Jack should talk to his ex-wife when she arrives for the big “sports competition” in their home city of Atlanta, but our hero is reluctant.

Did you notice how the sports competition is in Atlanta? And may I mention how the event is being attended by both the president of the United States and around twenty other international leaders? Yet, it is never once referred to as the Olympics. Odd, no? It gets even worse when you realize the movie has all of three locations: An office, another building that looks a heck of a lot like an office, and a pool facility. Mind you, the great majority of the film takes place near that pool. All 99 minutes worth, baby. So get ready for some really repetitive moviemaking, people.

Ah, but the terrorists. Yes, you see there are some nasty fellows who plan on blowing up the Olym—uh, I mean, sports competition real good. Their plan is a bit flimsy at best, especially when you realize that their leader kills a hostage just about every five minutes. Seriously, when the fourth moronic female swimmer went down because she tried to escape, I started to question the tactics of this rogue band. Luckily, not only do we have Jack on our side, kicking the cajones out of the baddies with his crippled leg, but we have superstar Rutger Hauer as well. Hauer plays the infamous Leo, a supposedly crazed yet brilliant Interpol officer who dresses in Native American attire and rides around in a motorized wheelchair.

If you need a ground plan as to just how this movie plays out, just imagine this collection of scenes ad infinitum. First, the terrorists scowl a lot at their hostages, the scantily clad lady swimmers and Jack’s ex-wife, who acts as their coach. Second, watch Jack run around a lot. Third, Jack pummels some villainy, with the occasional gun shot to the shoulder or cruel bludgeon to the head. Fourth, Leo stares at a computer screen real, real hard. I mean, we’re talkin’ real hard, guys. Fifth, a bunch of nameless officials look especially concerned. Sixth: The occasional, and highly embarrassing CGI explosion. Sounds fun, right?

After about the fourth cycle of these generic moments, you’ll find yourself wanting to do anything else but actually pay attention, even if that’s glazing your granny’s dried back with a hyper-moist solution. Like I said, there are some random names here, including Sonya Eddy, who plays the nosy Bena. Eddy’s had a lengthy career in film and television, and yet she’s totally awful in this picture. Actually, just about everyone has a Performance Phone glued to their heads, all knowing full well just how hopeless it is to even make an attempt. Frankly I feel sorry for the lot, but at least some went on to earn better credits.

Not to spoil the surprise, but everything works out in the end just fine. Evil is punished, good is rewarded, and exes get back together solely because they lived through a harrowing experience. Hurrah! Bleh. You’re much better off sticking to the films that made the action genre great in the first place, because watching VHS copies of Blast will only make you wanna watch independent features with subtitles. And who the hell needs those, anyway? Puh. Nobody, I say.